Work Day: Operation Coop Construction

We've been gearing up for a few months now for an influx of animals at Better Farm: clearing out a shed on the property so we can welcome a couple cashmere goats next month, making plans with the Clayton Co-op to provide them with organic eggs from here on out, and doing research into new coop designs to house a flurry of rescued hens and baby bard rocks.

So yesterday, a whole slew of Better Farm volunteers showed up to construct two chicken coops, each of which can house up to 25 hens. We bought plywood to protect roosting boxes from predators, but the entire rest of the operation drew from discarded scrap wood, metal roofing, an upcycled egg-laying box, and anything else we could find on-site.

Here's the set-up:

And our inspiration: a classic, mobile, rectangular box at left, and a larger coop design, at right, utilizing discarded screens and windows:

Here are some shots of the first design being impletmented:

The second coop was started, and will be finished next week—stay tuned! You can see the complete album here.

Thanks to: Erin Fulton, Brian Purwin, Holly Boname, Jon-Michael Passerino, Bob Laisdell, Susan Kerbel, Matt Smith, Nick Bellman, Carl Frizzelle, and Joel Zimmer for their help on these projects!

Want design plans or coop-construction advice? E-mail us at

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.